Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

A Changed Life

Hello friends,

Deadlines loom large occasionally. It is Sunday evening as I write this, we just came from meeting old friends for a few hours, and tomorrow I leave for two days. Therefore, this has to be written before I head to bed. Regarding the meeting with our friends, the Bible reminds us of the value of good friends, in Psalm 18: 24. I quote; “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A little sign in our house reads, “Friends are the family you choose.” Now, I have nothing against family, but it is true, there are friends who are closer than family members. I believe this applies especially to Christian friends. For those friends, I give thanks to the Lord.

Tomorrow begins our two state Southern Baptist annual meeting. This year it is being held in Lexington, and I am looking forward to being there. It does involve some business items for the convention, but there will be inspirational worship times, along with some quality preaching and teaching. Catching up with friends old and new will be a highlight for me, also.

This week I preached at Grace Bible Church, as they continue to search for just the right person to become their full-time pastor. We looked at the apostle Paul’s testimony concerning his life, and how it changed after meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus. In his testimony, Paul told what his life was like before encountering Jesus, the circumstances of his meeting Jesus, and how his life was changed as a result. Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians, to an outspoken follower of Christ.

We are reminded that every Christian has a witness that includes these three elements: My life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, and how he changed my life.

The question that comes to mind, then, is this; How has Jesus changed your life? Every believer should be able to give an answer. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Again, the question: How has Jesus changed your life, or has he? If not, have you asked him?

In His hands,

Pastor Jerry

Priorities

Hello friends,
September is here, and the weather word is cooler. Cool nights and days are signs of things to come, I suppose. Before we know it, the seasons will change again. The big national weather news is the hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Prayers are in order for the folks in the path of this storm.

Now for the devotional thought of the week. Maybe it should be called ‘Why are traditions so hard to give up?”
Why are traditions so hard to give up? It seems like a fair question, and one I had to deal with recently. I have consistently held the view that change is not a bad thing, yet when it becomes personal, I have second thoughts. We hold on to traditions and possessions, as if they hold some special value. If someone comes in and wants to make changes to our comfortable surroundings, we resist their efforts even if they are well-intentioned and make perfect sense. We easily forget that in light of eternity, nothing of this earth matters.

Our old friend King Solomon had something to say about this. Speaking of all the things he had acquired, he wrote, “I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)?

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

To the religious leaders of his time, Jesus said, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men… You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (Mark 78-9)!

When earthly possessions and those traditions we hold dear begin to become our focus, rather than our mission as followers of Jesus Christ, we are in danger of idolatry. To paraphrase a message I heard many years ago, when we begin to focus on the things of earth, we have taken our eyes off the cross, and the One who died for us.

Remember, as Christians, we have a greater inheritance waiting in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Not an Accident

This weather continues to defy any definition of normal. We went from extreme heat and humidity, to almost cool enough to wear a sweater in the space of about 48 hours. This morning (Sunday), I awoke to thunder and lightning, followed by some serious rain. My gauge showed .60 after it was over. I left early for a preaching engagement, and drove in rain for a good part of the way. Further south, I read reports of up to four inches of rain. I am glad for the cool-down, but I am certain that our hot weather will return.

There is a volunteer sunflower growing out of a flower pot in our back yard. I believe a seed fell from a bird feeder last winter and sprouted this spring. The plant has a nice blossom at the top, and I assume there will be more bird seed when it ripens. It reminds me of the old saying, “bloom where you are planted.”

I believe God “plants” people in specific places, at specific times, in order to fulfill His purpose for those individuals. At the same time, he uses them to make a difference in the lives of others. If we think about it in this context, no one is where they are by accident.

Looking back, I see points in my life’s journey when the only explanation that makes any sense is that God was using people and events to guide me to the place where I could see that I needed a Savior. Each time there was a change of location, a different job, or some other event, I am pretty sure I thought those were my plans. I have learned over time, that God’s plan for my life may or may not include my plans.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

The sunflower in the pot may seem to have been planted by accident, but God had a plan for it. Be like that sunflower. You are not where you are in life by chance or by accident. It is part of God’s plan for you. Bloom where you are planted, and if He uproots you and transplants you somewhere else, grow, bear fruit!

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts on Aging

It seems another Monday has rolled around, and time for me to share some thoughts from the past week. Weather-wise, we have experienced some more summer like temperatures, with a nice rain on Saturday night. Lawns are requiring frequent mowing, and the flowers and veggie plants are doing well. This is what we have been waiting for!

Recently, I have been thinking about the passing of the years, and things I have learned. I know, this is pretty deep stuff, but if there is no wisdom accumulated as we age, we haven’t been paying attention.

First, as I have previously noted, this past Friday marked the 55th anniversary of marriage for Milrae and myself… to each other. Lesson learned include: You will never see eye to eye on every subject. Neither of you is right every time. Patience goes a long way to making a long marriage. There are no perfect couples, ever. Learning to say “I’m sorry”, and “I was wrong”, are important phrases to remember.

Getting older is not as easy as one might think. I’m finding out I have much less energy than just a few years ago, and the things I can do take a lot longer than before. In the past, I could work from sun-up to sun-down, get eight hours of sleep and do it all over again the next day. Now, if I work a couple of hours, I need numerous naps over three days to recover. Ah, the pleasures of old age.

I did have a bit of encouragement this afternoon; our son called and asked a gardening question. I suggested he look in up on Google, and his response was, “You are my Google!”

I’m reminded of some scriptures relating to the topic of aging. Here are a few of my favorites.
“Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away… Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:10, 12 CSB).
“The glory of young men lies in their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29).

One more thought: This journey is meaningless, if we fail to include the Lord in our life. This I know. Do you know Him?

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

One Way

Well, here we go again with another round of snow and cold. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the four seasons, but I’m ready for a change!

Nebraska, it’s not for everyone; so the new state slogan says. Some are born here and had no choice in the beginning, but sooner or later you make a choice to live in this place, or choose some other place to live.

In comparison, Christianity is available to all people, and at some point each one has to make a choice. One major difference is that no one is born a Christian. A choice has to be made. Christianity is for everyone. Jesus died for all humanity, but we all have to accept his sacrifice on a personal basis.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Did you get that? It is for whoever believes in him. Those who do not believe do not have eternal life.

For those who might say there are many paths to salvation, this is what Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

This does not seem to indicate more than one way. At the beginning of his gospel, John, speaking of Jesus Christ wrote this: “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made by him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not recognize him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:10-12).

Every person is born with a sin nature, causing him or her to be separated from God. God has provided a way for that relationship to be restored. That way is Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. There is no middle ground, we must all choose to either accept him or reject him. God said it, that settles it for me. How about you?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry